Preview: Cards look to rebound for fifth straight series win against Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) — Lance Lynn’s start to 2013 is practically an exact copy of his start from a year ago.

He’d like to avoid repeating what followed last season’s impressive start.

Lynn attempts to gain a share of the major league lead in wins by beating the Cincinnati Reds for a third time this year in the finale of this three-game set Sunday night.

Lynn (8-1, 2.76 ERA) went 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA over his first 10 starts in his first full season in the majors last year, earning a selection to the All-Star game.

The right-hander, however, followed that up by going 5-4 with a 5.02 ERA over his next 15 games and lost his spot in the rotation.

He’s looking to avoid a similar fate, while attempting to tie teammate Adam Wainwright, Arizona’s Patrick Corbin and Clay Buchholz of Boston for the most wins in baseball.

Lynn is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA over his last three starts, yielding one run in seven innings of a 7-1 win over Arizona on Monday.

He’s won both of his starts against the Reds this season, limiting them to two runs with 15 strikeouts in 13 innings. However, both of those outings came at home, and he was tagged for four runs and six hits in two-plus innings, while not getting a decision in an 8-5 win at Cincinnati on Aug. 24.

The Cardinals (40-22), owners of the best record in baseball, are hoping Lynn can help them rebound from Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Cincinnati (37-25) as they seek a fifth-straight series win against the NL Central rival.

St. Louis took the series opener 9-2 on Friday.

While Lynn has been terrific on the mound, Matt Carpenter and David Freese continue to pace the offense.

Freese is batting .388 with 16 RBIs during an 18-game hitting streak, the longest active run in the majors. Carpenter is right behind, batting .425 with 16 runs while hitting safely in 17 straight.

Both may be in for a stiff test against Cincinnati’s scheduled starter Bronson Arroyo. Freese is 1 for 12 against him, while Carpenter is 1 for 9.

After ending a three-game skid Saturday, the Reds hope Arroyo (6-5, 3.38) can build on his most recent outing.

The veteran right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his past five trips the mound and is coming off his best start of that stretch, giving up four hits over eight innings of a 3-0 victory over Colorado on Monday.

That performance was in stark contrast to his 5-2 loss at Cleveland five days earlier, when he surrendered five runs and two homers in 5 2-3 innings.

“That’s baseball, man,” Arroyo told the team’s official website. “I could throw the same stuff up there two nights in a row, probably have a pitching machine, and get completely different results. It’s just some days, man, the ball bounces your way.”

That largely hasn’t been the case over his last 11 starts versus the Cardinals, with Arroyo going 1-7 with a 5.27 ERA.

Joey Votto is 11 for 29 (.379) in eight season meetings with St. Louis after getting a pair of doubles and an RBI Saturday. The slugging first baseman is 2 for 4 with two walks against Lynn this year.